On-The-Record with JackBacks Creator Adam Baumgartner
If you are one of the millions of people who read Mashable and Gizmodo or are a savvy shopper at the Final Friday PopShop, then you already know about JackBacks. The idea behind the local business is simple: replace the back of iPhones with attractive wood that can be personalized. You can find JackBacks at jackbacks.com, facebook.com/jackbacks and @lumberjackbacks on twitter.
JackBacks creator Adam Baumgartner recently answered a few questions about his popular brainchild.
When did you first have the JackBacks idea?
I first got the idea for JackBacks back in the Fall of 2010. I was basically looking at cases for my iPhone and I couldn’t really find any that I liked, and I really didn’t want the bulk of a case either. I saw a blog post on unplggd.com about iPhone back replacements. There was a cool metal one I liked so I gave it a try. That one turned out to be pretty much a piece of junk — it broke within a week. I ordered a few other ones (carbon fiber, colored plastic) hoping they would work better, but they were all pretty bad. During my continued online search for products I figured out that I could just buy the plastic bezel part (iPhone back without the glass), and decided to try to make one of my own. I ordered a bunch of different bezels from different people online and finally found one that was of decent quality. I really wanted to try and make my new iPhone back out of wood — I had done woodworking in the past and had access to some of the tools necessary. Seven hours of cutting, sanding, sealing, and buffing later, and I had prototype #1.
When did you start selling them?
I started selling them around November or December of 2010. I had cut the production time down and prepared my website to accept online sales. At first I was only making one or two sales per month, and I got a little discouraged. But I kept refining the production process and really dedicated myself to building a sense of community through social media. I started doing more marketing and upgraded to a shopify.com store and things started picking up from there.
How have you gotten the word out about JackBacks?
I try and connect to people one-on-one, mostly through Twitter and FaceBook — my customers are pretty tech savvy, so it’s a really natural way to connect with each one individually. To get the word out I’ve been contacting blogs and tech websites, asking them to do reviews of the product. I’ll send them a prototype — sometimes etched with their website or company logo — and then wait to see what they think. They’ve been received really well by the reviewers, and their sites are followed by a lot of people, generally my core audience/market. These have brought in a lot of interest. The interaction on FaceBook and Twitter helps build the brand and creates a viral marketing effect. I spend a lot of time interacting with people online, and it’s really fun to talk about something I really care about, especially when other people dig what I’m doing.
Locally, you’ve been spreading the word at the Final Friday PopShop and other venues…how would you describe the reception you’ve received from the city?
Ah, yes, the good ol’ Pop Shop. That was a fun time. (It’s always nice to get away from the computer once in a while and actually talk to people in real life.) CityBeat did a little writeup on JackBacks in their Best of Cincinnati issue, which was cool. Overall, the people who I’ve talked to around town and at the Pop Shop really seem to like what I’m doing. I get mixed feedback at times, but overall it’s very positive and motivating. I did a little bit of work and brainstorming with Alex from Losantiville (Such and Such) and that has been very motivating and inspiring as well.
Now a little bit about you. What’s your background?
I grew up in the suburbs of Colerain and then studied Fine Arts at DAAP and graduated with a degree in Electronic Art. I’ve been doing Flash and Web Development for Miami University for the past five years, and in my spare time took a couple classes on Entrepreneurship. JackBacks has allowed me to combine my interest in building a business, branding and design with something I’m equally as into (my iPhone). It’s really a blast to work on something I truly enjoy and to see direct results from my work. In the future I hope to expand JackBacks and get more of a full-time operation going, working with a few likeminded people, making iPhone dreams come true…
Here’s a review of JackBacks from Dom at MacMixing.com: